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ABT - Le Cosaire May 2008


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Le Corsaire – Tues May 20th

Medora – Herrera

Conrad – Gomes

Gulnare - Reyes

Ali – Corella

Lakendem – Cornejo

Birbanto – Radetsky

Odalisques – Riccetto, Boone, Part

Lead Pirate Woman - Butler

A superb performance from everyone. The first thing that must be mentioned is Herman’s partnering of Reyes: A+/A! He’s got it. He’s finally got it! He even made it look easy. Herman had a phenomenal evening of leaps and turns, including the “Le Cornejo” which is the spinning leap-turn in the piked passe position.

Paloma was flawless, warm, completely engaged with the other characters on stage. The highlight for me was her and Gomes in the bedroom Act II PdD. Her leaps of faith into Gomes’ arms and the shape of line that the two of them created together left me breathless. The only thing that I was bothered by the whole night was the blue tutu in the first part of Act II. I was expecting the elegant white with either blue or purple trim, but out came this Disneyesque royal blue thing with a million sequins that clashed with every color on stage including and especially, Ali’s costume. It made his costume look dirty.

Reyes astonished me during the Gala performance with her determination and the way she just willed her way through some troublesome turns. Well last night, she applied that same will accompanied by no technical difficulties whatsoever. She flew through every variation, nailing her balances and turns.

Corella was the expected lightning. What is there left to say about him in this role except maybe “Thank you. Thank you for 10 years of this, and would it be too much to ask for 10 more?”

The Odalisques were as perfect and in unison as they could be. Part was secure and lovely. Her double pirouettes down the diagonal were authoritative and on spot. Maria’s brisse variation was hampered by a sluggish tempo, but she was crisp and clean. Kristi Boone just blew me away with her new Kirov-inspired port de bras. She looked magnificent, regal, all those other words. I noticed that the Myrta for the Abrera-Hallberg Giselle is the only TBA on the schedule. I wonder, will we get a triple debut with Kristi?!

Radetsky’s Birbanto and Marian Butler’s pirate woman were superb as well, but it was a daunting task to compete with everything else going on on that stage last night. Radetsky’s turns were secure as was all of his technique. He does evil and threatening very well. I wish he would play this role a bit bigger. One doesn’t have to pander to the audience, but one can lift up one’s eyes and acknowledge the space out in front of him now and then.

All in all, a great start. Can’t wait to see Irina with Cory Stearnes debut tonight.

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I thought it was an outstanding performance all around. I said to someone, "I don't know if Angel's ears were burning about yesterday afternoon's discussion, but he looked like he was on rocket fuel last night!" He usually has that soulful expression, but last night he had an intensity and a fierceness of expression I've never seen from him.

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Le Corsaire - Wed. May 21

Tonight's performance marked the debuts of Cory Stearns as Conrad and Mikhail Ilyin as Birbanto. Stearns is a tall, beautiful proportioned, handsome kid with a velvety smooth texture to his dancing. He did well last night. No technical fireworks - just a very measured and thoughtful effort where he demonstrated good ability to partner, beautiful long lines, and a good amount of prince-liness.

Ilyin, on the other hand, is a short dynamo with lots of star quality, great turning ability, and potentially a huge dramatic power. McKenzie is definitely replenishing the ranks with some great talent.

Last night's Odalisques were Messmer, Boone and Pavam. Pavam, as the third Odalisque, gave us some guttsy triple pirouettes down the diagonal. Boone was beautiful but not as striking as the night before when she was dancing next to the Kirov inspiration. Messmer was lovely as well.

The evening's star power was delivered by Dvorovenko, Carreno and Corella. Irina did nothing objectionable, and in fact, was a gorgeous Medora. She was touching and funny and delivered everything Medora is supposed to. She did single fouettes without moving an inch. Very impressive to see that in a time when travelling all the way to the edge of the stage is the norm. Kudos to her for helping to break in Stearns - that could not have been without pressure, especially the first flying leap across the stage and into his arms in Act I.

Maria Riccetto was Gulnare. Another solid performance. She's so light that Carreno decided to do some sustained one-armed lifts with her. She and Dvorovenko had a bit of a synchronization issue in Act III, but all in all Maria had a good night.

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Last night's performance of Le Corsair was perhaps only the second or third time I have seen this work. I had been expecting to see the wonderful Marcelo Gomez and Paloma Herrera, but there was some cast changes.

Dvorovenko does little for me on stage. Her dancing seems fine but she has a smile plastered on her face and she looks plastic and I can't find anything special about her performance.

On the other hand Angel Corella was magnificent. He totally embraced the role and was a dynamo on stage. The audience applause for him and not for her tells it all.

Cory Stearns did nothing for me and I thought he looked nervous and too focus on the spinning ballerina Irena when he was assisting her. Perhaps all males play these parts like this...I was watching him intently because he is a new face to me and I was trying to see what was special about his work. I was not impressed at all. He's a handsome lad with a boylike appearance.

Maria Recetto, for me also has a smile or face problem or something about her head and neck. Her work looks precise but stiff. Watching her made me think that the best ballerinas manage to execute precise moves and poses without looking wooden and the others move like "robots". This is a gross exaggeration, but this woodeness to me appears to all reside in the upper body, chest shoulders, neck and so forth. When I observe someone with "good posture", I want it to look natural to their body (and movement), not like they are forcing themselves to stand,sit and move like that. I don't know how some dancers manage to appear as they do without looking wooden and still and others look like they are forcing their bodies to conform to some ideal or standard.

Of course this is the deal is it? Dancers are supposed to execute moves and positions with precision. To manage to pull lots of this off and appear fluid, relaxed is the challenge.

Ballet is "unnatural" in many ways and one of the most curious aspects is the facial expressions dancers assume when performing. Acting roles allows them to use the facial expressions in meaningful ways, but much of the roles, like the corps work in Corsaire you see the beauties with smiles plastered on their faces and it looks very odd. But what would be the appropriate facial expression. I need to observe more faces to understand this. Ferri seemed to "get it" on all levels.. I miss her.

I thought that some of the dancers were not with the music. Maybe this is the choreography, itself, or my inability to see the connection between movement and music. But at times my impression is that the dancer is doing all the steps (beautifully even) but not as musical as I would like it to be. Some, of course nail it, as Corella does. he was so there with the music. Recetto is with the music but seems trapped in it not breaking free as Corella did. Dvorovenko has star power, but her performance was not exceptional.

It was Corella's night. Thanks Angel!

My uneducated impressions.

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SanderO - You're not alone with regard to your feelings about Dvorovenko. Her persona puts off some people. The only time I found it objectionable was in Les Sylphides several seasons ago when she had just returned from maternity leave and could not contain her enthusiasm for being back on stage. Last night I was sitting quite close to the stage, equipped with binocs, and I thought she came off as warm and genuine. Her dancing was un-flashy and quite lovely in many respects - particularly some of her breathing balances.

It was Stearns debut in his first principal role. Yes, he played it safe and was visibly under pressure, but I always find it very exciting to see these youngsters debut and then follow them as they develop. I had to laugh when after all the tough dancing was over, he seemed almost unprepared when Dvorovenko pulled a rose out of her bouquet for him. I wonder if that was his first rose. I imagine his second opportunity Saturday afternoon will show him a bit more animated. Wish I could be there.

Did anyone see Misty Copeland's debut at yesterday's matinee?

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I thought that Stearns did a good job, probably without benefit of alot of rehearsel time.

I thought that Angel's 1st variation was a little sloppy. His 2nd variation and a la second turns were up to his usual superb standards.

How about letting Herman dance Ali???????? I think it is a shame that he has not danced a role that people....IMO.....would pay for alone to see?!?!!!!!

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SanderO - You're not alone with regard to your feelings about Dvorovenko. Her persona puts off some people. The only time I found it objectionable was in Les Sylphides several seasons ago when she had just returned from maternity leave and could not contain her enthusiasm for being back on stage. Last night I was sitting quite close to the stage, equipped with binocs, and I thought she came off as warm and genuine. Her dancing was un-flashy and quite lovely in many respects - particularly some of her breathing balances.

It was Stearns debut in his first principal role. Yes, he played it safe and was visibly under pressure, but I always find it very exciting to see these youngsters debut and then follow them as they develop. I had to laugh when after all the tough dancing was over, he seemed almost unprepared when Dvorovenko pulled a rose out of her bouquet for him. I wonder if that was his first rose. I imagine his second opportunity Saturday afternoon will show him a bit more animated. Wish I could be there.

Did anyone see Misty Copeland's debut at yesterday's matinee?

I was so pleased to be there for her debut. I've been watching her for several years and was thrilled by her performance yesterday. Her technique was excellent and she glowed during the entire evening.

I was also happy to be at the Met for Stearns' debut. However, I thought that he'll need a good deal of coaching to be able to dance Conrad's role properly. He got through the steps, but he didn't exhibit any of the strength which Conrad represents. In addition, in his relationship with Irina, he seemed extremely nervous. There was no sense of the passion which we saw in Marcello's or David's performances this week. I will be seeing him again this weekend, and I hope that he'll be able to overcome his fears.

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Not only was Wednesday Cory Stearns' debut as Conrad, but it was by far the biggest assignment in this young corps dancer's career at ABT. It wouldn't be fair to expect a performance on the level of a Hallberg or a Gomes. It's a lot of pressure for someone so inexperienced (as his bio indicates), and if he just "got through" if his debut was an uniced cake, I say kudos to him!

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Not only was Wednesday Cory Stearns' debut as Conrad, but it was by far the biggest assignment in this young corps dancer's career at ABT. It wouldn't be fair to expect a performance on the level of a Hallberg or a Gomes. It's a lot of pressure for someone so inexperienced (as his bio indicates), and if he just "got through" if his debut was an uniced cake, I say kudos to him!

You're right! And he's getting a another big push in less than two weeks as a principal in both Etudes and the Tharp piece.

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How about letting Herman dance Ali???????? I think it is a shame that he has not danced a role that people....IMO.....would pay for alone to see?!?!!!!!

Xiomara and Herman have done the PDD from "Le Corsaire" at various galas.

The constant issue with casting Herman in leading roles is his height which limits him to dancing with Sarah Lane or Xiomara Reyes, neither of whom dance Medora with ABT. Herman wouldn't work as a partner for Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera, Irina Dvorovenko, Julie Kent or Michele Wiles, the usual Medora suspects these days. However, if they are doing the original pas de trois version of the famous warhorse rather than the gala pas de deux version, then most of the partnering is done by Conrad not Ali. Am I mistaken? Isn't Ali basically doing his solos and then dancing around Medora and Conrad, not actually partnering the ballerina during the promenades and lifts, et al.?

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Ali does most (if not all) of the overhead lifts, while Conrad tends to support Medora's pirouettes, extensions, promenades, etc. Much as I admire them both, I wouldn't want to see Herman in either role with Michele.

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Couple of things went wrong during yesterday's performance.

Starting with Gennady Saveliev who got back injury during the performance.. So Carlos Lopez had to perform most of the PDT in second act.. .. Gennady finished the 3rd act but was obviously in pain..

Julia Kent fell out of the music during PDT and did not complete all of the usual turns..

Still, she created such a sensual, playful, glacial and believable, Medora! Especially comparing with Irina Dvorovenko the night before, who was perfect technically but her Medora was blank, flat..

Also, Julia Kent was not wearing that new costume - bright blue tutu which makes horrible contrast with color of Ali's pants.. She danced in her "old" costume, which I think was great.

Angel Corella was as fantastic as the night before.

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I went to the 2 Wednesday performances. I took time off from work for the Wed matinee specifically for Misty Copeland's debut as Gulnare and she did not disappoint. I admit my prejudice here, but to my eye she really nailed it. Her dancing had precision, amplitude, beautiful flow as well as a lot of punch. She also really presented Gulnare's plucky character well. My only quibble is that she felt the need to throw in a way past 180 degree supported jete a la Somova during the partnered sequence. I may not be describing this move correctly, it's not a jete leap, her partner lifted her in a jete position and instead of having both legs extended outward forming a straight (180 degree) line both feet kept heading upward resulting in a "v" shape. While it didn't look as contorted as it does on Ms S, it was really unnecessarily gymnastic, especially considering the perfect classical placement she displayed in everything else.

Hallberg's Conrad was marvelous – although he was the sunniest, most princely pirate I've ever seen and while Kent is not a favorite of mine she gave us a really lovely Medora. She is a beautiful, lyrical dancer who projects well and imbued her character with great warmth & sweetness. It was wonderful to see Stiefel back in action again, he may be a step slower than before but he's still a very special dancer who paid as much attention to his slave's characterization as to his bravura tricks. I thought the whole cast was very strong but although Maria Bystrova had some beautiful moments I thought that she and the other Odalesque girls Melanie Hamrick & Melissa Thomas were the weakest link. The tempos for all 3 variations seemed slow to me and I guess that having seen the Kirov's Jardin Animee so recently I really missed their epaulment & musical phrasing, in fact these barely looked like the same variations. I thought the Wed night trio of Messmer, Pavam and Boone were much better overall and Renata Pavam in particular did a great job with the multiple pirouettes in her solo.

Corsaire is far from my favorite ballet and I bought tickets to the Wed night performance specifically to see Gomes, Carreno, Corella & Ilyin. You can imagine my disappointment at the casting change. Considering that Cory Stearns has only been in the corps for 2 years and has never danced a major soloist role before I think he did a commendable job as Conrad but he was in no way, shape or form at the level of Hallberg, Gomes or any other male dancer I've seen in this role at ABT. This is not meant as a criticism of him - he was fine and if you're going to throw a green kid into a big leading role in a full length ballet you can't expect a fully realized performance. I'm glad he's getting a chance and hope he continues to develop but ABT's calling card is their male star power and that's what I expected to see. I would have preferred to see Gomes or Corella or Carreno as Conrad and let Stearns cut his teeth on actual soloist roles.

I guess it probably helped & hurt in equal measure to have him paired with Dvorovenko. As an experienced ballerina she was probably able to guide him somewhat. On the other hand she really has a take no prisoners stage personality and from the moment she lifted her veil for a peek at Conrad it looked to me like she was running the show. Highlights of the performance for me were Corella, Carreno and Ilyin, all of whom were wonderful.

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Much as I admire them both, I wouldn't want to see Herman in either role with Michele.

Wiles and Cornejo? I won't comment. I'll just smirk and look at the cartoon.

http://blog.b92.net/arhiva/files/images/en...a-hippo_gat.jpg

So that means if we want Herman as Ali, outside of doing the pas de deux with Xiomara in a gala, we will need a "mini" Corsaire cast. Kevin, I am on the case.

Xiomara Reyes as Medora, Sarah Lane as Gulnare, Daniil Simkin as Conrad, Herman Cornejo as Ali, Carlos Lopez or Mikhail Ilyin as Birbanto and Craig Salstein or Joseph Phillips as Lankendem. Voila!

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Friday night's Le Corsaire was another excellent performance courtesy of Hallberg, Wiles, Copeland, Radetsky, Carreno and Salstein. Wiles was amazing in her sustained and centered turns and balances. She's tall and erect the way van Hamel was and was brimming with confidence last night. A great job! Hallberg's a la second leaps are about the most beautiful shape I've ever seen with that S-curve that goes from his hip to his feet. He had a super night technique-wise and also dramatically. They left out the final upside down lift in the Act II bedroom PdD and opted for a shoulder lift instead. It was less dramatic, but a minor aspect in an overall great and grand performance.

Carreno was delicious - a slave one wants to be a slave to. He so milked one of his mulitple pirouettes by finishing the final revolution on balance while slowly turning his back and looking over his shoulder back at the audience. Oh, god.

As nysusan pointed out in the Wednesday matinee performance, Misty Copeland nailed everything in Gulnare, but did, unfortunately, decide to employ some excesses along the way. The lift with legs in second position went beyond second and into a wide V position, and some of the developees went to 179.99999 degrees and would have been much prettier had they not. I'm going to guess that this sort of muscling was the result of this being her first tutu-principal role, and she wanted to show everyone that she could run with the big guys/girls. By the way, she looked gorgeous in the yellow tutu.

Radetsky had a very, very good night as Lankendem. Someone must be mentoring him, because his pirouettes have been looking (in most cases) quite a bit better. Last night in the opening solo, he ticked off the sets of four revolutions while pressing the arms, shoulders, and energy into the ground like I'd not seen him do before. There was none of that turning with his center in his throat. Everything he did last night was at a high principal level. He and the other guys on stage are so "into" their characters as pirates that sometimes there is spontaneous interaction that isn't always part of the choreography. It makes this production all the more fun to watch.

Salstein and Sarawanee Tanatanit were the lead pirates. This section of Le Corsair will always be hard to assesss so long as the Cornejo sibling's performance from years ago still lingers in the mind. Salstein and Tanatanit gave an energetic and complete performance.

The Odalisques were Hamrick, Boone and Part. The music for the brisse solo for Hamrick was painfully slow, resulting in brisses that went up instead of moving laterally. Boone and Part were both terrific. Part is looking very confident and strong. Boone's emboite variation was superb. These two ladies look quite wonderful dancing together.

By the way, Xiomara Reyes has been dancing up a storm this week, and she has just been listed as the lead in Etudes for the opening and closing nights.

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I saw the Gala and Tuesday's and Wednesday's Corsaire performances so was able to compare Cornejo's and Stearns' Conrad variations, Cornejo and Carreno (sorry, computer can't do tilda) alternate as Lankedam, and Carreno and Corella in the PDD/PDT.

Cory Stearns is an ABT corps member given a principal role, which he did cleanly and carefully. Given his experience, I was satisfied, and of course realise that he still has a ways to go. Once he is more comfortable in the role, he should be able to relax enough to project a more expressive and nuanced characterization. I am happy he had the opportunity to peform as a principal, and hope to see him continue to grow in this or other roles.

I, too, thought Irina was lively and interesting as Medora, but definately in control of the action and her partner.

The insert in the Gala program said Herman was doing Lankedam's variation, but I thought it was Conrad's that I saw at the performance. Or was he just wearing the costume for fun? Still, at the Gala, and the following night's full-length, both in characterization and technique he was wonderful, and I was sorry he wasn't onstage more. (Gomes, of course, made an excellent pirate--something I thought even when he was still in the corps--and provided Paloma all the confidence she needed to fearlessly express herself in the pdd's.)

It's always interesting for me to see different dancers perform the same role; and now I've seen everyone but Ethan peform Ali's role in the PDD/PDT. Watching Carreno and Corella perform Ali almost back-to-back was a wonderful, informative example of how two dancers can be superb technicians and artists and yet be VERY different. Carreno (IMHO) is the perfect exemplar of power and control, with his strong upright carriage, elegance, and so precise turns. To me he is "centered" "one with the earth". Corella, however, belongs to the sky: Fleet, soaring, graceful; with a beautiful epaulement--more visible on Wednesday, that always extends his (and his partner's) line up and out, and pirouettes that blur. He may plie mid-turn into the earth, but still spirals up at full speed; a take-off, not a landing. In some ways, he is truly unique. BTW: Kudos to his stamina doing 4 performances in a row.

So much for the enjoyable part....

NOTE to ABT COLOR BLIND COSTUMER: PLEASE PLEASE HAVE YOUR EYES EXAMINED SOON!!! How could anyone put that 2nd act blue tutu against Ali's pants!!??!! Except for the two "creamsicle" peasant girls in Giselle, (you know the two orange girls amidst all those green/blues?), and the 4 poor unfortunate suitors in Sleeping Beauty, I have NEVER seen anything so egregious, and so easily fixed, in my entire life as a dancer and viewer.

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Carreno (IMHO) is the perfect exemplar of power and control, with his strong upright carriage, elegance, and so precise turns. To me he is "centered" "one with the earth". Corella, however, belongs to the sky: Fleet, soaring, graceful; with a beautiful epaulement--more visible on Wednesday, that always extends his (and his partner's) line up and out, and pirouettes that blur. He may plie mid-turn into the earth, but still spirals up at full speed; a take-off, not a landing.

So beautifully and perfectly expressed, 4mrdncr. It makes you realize just how fortunate we have been to have them all these years.

Saturday night's Le Corsaire's Act II bedroom PdD with Herrera and Gomes brought the house down. The final sustained upside down lift followed by a deep sweeping drop from which Herrera then ascended as though she might take off into the air again was almost too much to take. It was thrilling.

Radetsky as Birbanto, again, turned in a transcending theatrical and technical performance. Carreno as Lankendem – charming, comically conniving – perhaps not as fresh as his previous three performances this week, but still remarkable.

Maria Riccetto, but for one dropped pirouette, was wonderful as Gulnare. She always delivers a very steady, high quality level of dancing, and I think the only reason people have not latched on to her, so to speak, is that she isn't a risk taker and isn't known for going for that third or fourth revolution. Toward the end of Act III, she came flying down the stage with gorgeous grand jetes. She also demonstrated the value of moderation with her ecarte developpes.

Stiefel as Ali had some good moments with his coupe jetes and split leaps, but Ali is probably a role he should pass on to someone else. He spent a lot of time in preparations as opposed to executing. At the end of the Act II PdT, he resisted coming forward for an individual bow.

Odalisques were Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, and Misty Copeland. Lane got a quicker tempo for the brisse variation which helped immensely. Kajiya went for long, sustained balances before each double pirouette down the diagonal. Beautiful phrasing in her variation. Copeland's emboite variation was peppy, but she looked a bit student-ish when those arms flipped to a high fifth with fingers touching. The three of them were a good unit, but honestly, I prefer our big girls in this section.

Have to agree that the blue tutu in Act II was pretty awful. They were going for a blue that matched part of the back scenery, but really did a disservice to the performers, especially Ali. Someone who posted above said that Julie Kent didn't wear it - good for her!

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although if they're being used the way they were designed it would be not abt's costumer but the one hired by boston ballet!

I saw this production first at Boston Ballet long before it came to ABT, and don't remember gagging then. Also, in the many times I've seen it here since, the costume has changed from the one Julie usually wears (which always reminds me of an oyster) to variations on light-blue, to almost light pink, but never such a horrible clashing of colors as I witnessed this week. It's as if the errors of Sleeping Beauty were allowed to seep into Corsaire. And as I've said, it is easily fixed--use the pdd (not this pdt) if necessary. Obviously someone was very color blind to assume those blues were in the same tonal range. And please don't blame the lighting.

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On Gillian last night, the blue was beautiful with her hair and skin.....and then Carreno walked over in the pants.....The pants match the scenery perfectly, but the bright blue of that tutu.....eeeeuw. The tutu ornamentation is lovely (silver peacock feather patterns) but it's made from lycra/milliskin or some matte stretchy stuff that is firmly tacked to the tutu all the way around the outer edge, heightening the circus pinwheel aspect. Nasty.

I loved the steel grey/oyster/abalone look of the previous tutu....they could have even gone with a more traditional lilac/lavender version. This blue was just wrong.

Oh, the dancing was splendid!

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"Oh, the dancing was splendid!"

It was, wasn't it? I've never seen Gennadi do stuff like that before. He was always reliable, but not flashy. Gillian started out shaky, but those fouettes were spectacular. In fact, I wasn't even paying attention until the gasps of the audience snapped me to attention. Jose Manuel and Herman were terrific, but they both seemed to have a little less juice than I've seen before. But Jose Manuel and Herman at 90% are still something to see. Carlos is getting better every time I see him.

And it was nice to see Renata getting some soloist action. And wasn't she remarkable? I've liked her for some time. Several people have said to me, "Is she the one that looks like a little Maria"? Now, we got to see them dancing side by side. The "big sister" and the "kid sister".

The women sitting next to me said, "Why do the ABT women sound like they're wearing work boots? The Kirov women don't make a sound. Maybe they have special shoes." This was before Xiomara danced, feather light. They stopped complaining then.

I must say that I'm ready for something else. When you find yourself watching the guy crank the wind machine, you know it's time!

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